Friday, December 14, 2007

Looking for Sea Cows: My Daughter's Frugal Play Date

Scenario: School vacation and my daughter, age 9, was home with a friend. We were set for a trip to the Miami Children's Museum, but the girls invented their own frugal fun with little prompting from me.

Here's what they did:

1. Read books.

2. Cooked: Using the microwave, Nori (sushi) rolls and frozen vegetables, the girls invented "mini-pocket veggie sushi rolls." With tamari (soy sauce), ginger and garlic, they also created a dipping sauce.

3. Baked: With oven-assistance from me, they made a mushy fruit pie using frozen fruits, 2 pie crusts, powdered cinnamon and apple sauce. It looked horrible, tasted yucky, but they had so much fun.

4. Electronic hand-held games: My daughter is into some kind of Nintendo electronic pet (a dog) that hears her voice and interacts with her. She has even named him "Lucky" and this electronic pet --no joke--responds when she calls him. I am totally clueless about that relationship.

5. Played with our real dog. Who knew our pet Scruffy was so entertaining? Even walking the dog, (I held the leash) was an adventure. Watching me clean up from the dog was also very funny. I was less amused.

6. Organized my stuff. These tween girls are professional organizers in training. They loved, loved, loved cleaning out my big huge purse. It was like a treasure hunt and they enjoyed making everything neat and commenting on my inner linings. And I paid them $5 bucks for such abuse and disapproval.
7. Ordered take-out Chinese. They pooled their funds and ordered won ton soup, fried curry dumplings and other treats from the new Kosher Chinese Restaurant near our home. This project involved 1) creating a budget, 2) selecting a menu, 3) adding up figures and 4) placing an order. They even enjoyed waiting outside for the delivery man and debating about his tip.

8. Looking for Manatees. Around 3:00, I felt very guilty. The girls -- with little input from me -- had entertained themselves and I had spent very little time or money on them. So I invited them on a manatee mission. We live near the ocean and on a lake/canal that feeds the Atlantic Ocean. From the docks near our building, we have spotted manatees (sea cows), dolphins, sting rays and jelly fish. However, during our recent outing, there was not much to see: one little zebra fish, some hermit crabs and a lot of murky water. But we had fun looking.

On the way back into the building, we purchased Powerade drinks from a nearby bodega. My working-mommy guilt prompted me to treat them to soft drinks, which I usually avoid.

What I Learned: The Children's Museum -- a very worthwhile trip with lots of fun things to do -- would have cost $30, excluding transportation and related expenses. (For sure, we would have spent at least another $10 during that trip.) And I would have gladly paid that fare because of all the creative activities available.

One of the museum's attractions is the make-believe work-station play area. Basically, museum go-ers can pretend to be different types of grown-ups or professionals. And that's great and creative, but the girls created their own true-to-life workstations for far less.

So I don't feel so guilty about working while they played. Besides, I helped with the mushy fruit pie; I let them scold me about my messy purse and I went with them to look for sea cows.
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2 comments: said...

Sharon: Thanks for participating in this week's Carnival of Family Life and hosting at Adventures in Juggling!!

Frugal Duchess said...

Thanks for the visit. I plan to highlight the Carnival of Family Life with a special post later this week!

Take Care,